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Ethnocultural characteristics

The United Nations Statistics Division is the primary agency responsible at the international level for collecting official national census data on ethnocultural characteristics of the population, including national and/or ethnic group, religion and language. Data on these topics have been collected through the Demographic Yearbook since 1948.

A review of the data collection and dissemination on ethnicity describes the national practices as well as terms and concepts used in data collection and dissemination.


Ethnocultural characteristics

The United Nations Statistics Division collects, compiles and disseminates data from national statistical offices on population by national and/or ethnic group, language and religion through the Demographic Yearbook data collection system. Additional information on national and/or ethnic group, language and religion is available from the National Statistical Office websites of many countries.

Based on our collection of census questionnaires, UNSD has compiled an online database of census questions on national and or ethnic group, language and religion from the 2000 census round (1995-2004).

Special Focus on Indigenous People

The United Nations Statistics Division, Social and Demographic Statistics Branch has been working in collaboration with the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to review national practices of collecting and disseminating data on national and/or ethnic group, language and religion with special focus on indigenous persons. As part of the collaboration, UNSD participated in the IAOS satellite meeting "Measuring Small and Indigenous Populations" which was held in Wellington, New Zealand, on 14 and 15 April 2005. The meeting was hosted by Statistics New Zealand and was held in conjunction with the ISI 2005 Conference in Sydney, Australia. UNSD also participated in the Fourth Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (May 2005). UNSD drafted a report entitles "Data Collection Pertaining to Indigenous Peoples: Issues and Challenges" for a workshop on indigenous statistics hosted by the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in January, 2004.

Illustrative examples: uses of census metadata on ethnocultural characteristics in research

Professor Ann Morning (New York University) presented her analysis of the ethnicity census questions at a recent seminar given in the Statistics Division. Her presentation was entitled “ETHNIC CLASSIFICATION IN GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE: A Cross-National Survey of the 2000 Census Round”